View Full Version : Forton ATI/ Taunton stopline - Somerset - Mar/Apr 2011

16-04-2011, 04:05 PM
FortonAnti Tank Island – March 2011

The Forton ATI is part of the Taunton stopline defences.

Info and History

“A World War 2 anti-invasion stop line, facing west, built between July and November 1940.
The stop line runs for approximately 50 miles from the mouth of River Brue to the mouth of the River Axe in Devon (with someinfrastructure in Dorset). Some rear positions were prepared to the E of line. It connected to the ‘GHQ Line Green’ running East along River Brue.

The line followed the River Parrett to Bridgwater where it joined the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal. From Creech St Michael itfollowed the old Chard Canal until SW of Ilton where it joined the Great Western Railway. The line left the GWR to the north of Chard Junction from where it followed the Southern Railway and River Axe running south into Devon.

The planned infrastructure (most of which was built) included 233 pillboxes, 61 medium machine gun emplacements, 21 anti-tankgun emplacements, 83 road blocks, 22 railway blocks and 46 demolitions.

The anti-tank obstacle consisted of about 24 miles of waterways, 7 miles of improved water obstacles, 11 miles of anti-tankditches and 8 miles of artificial obstacles (eg cubes).

From autumn 1940, twelve locations were prepared for all-round defence as ‘anti-tank islands’ of which 9 were in Somerset -Bridgwater, Durston, Creech St Michael, Wrantage and Crimson Hill, Ilton,Ilminster, Chard, Forton and Perry Street.”

The defences in this report are some of the ones which form the south west corner of the ATI. The headings contain the original 1940 serial numbers for each PB along with its type. DOB numbers are also given for reference where available. A GE map shot of the area is shown below.


T RD B 26 – S0000303 – Roadblock

AT cubes are all that remain of this roadblock.






T 112 – S0000302 – Type 24 PB,modified

This PB is the thick walled type and has one embrasure modified for MMG. Another interesting feature is the two grooves in front of the LMG embrasures probably for locating a Bren bipod.






T 113 – S0000301 – Type 24 PB, modified

This has exactly the same internal detail as T 112 and the boxes are in sight of each other. This one covers the roadblock.






M 25 – Type 24 PB

Not strictly part of the Forton ATI as it covers the now dismantled Forton railbridge and has a TSL designation. Given that the stoplines and ATI’s merged top and tail so to speak, I’ve included it here. Interestingly it has the winddriven pump on top which is attributed to another nearby pillbox on the DOB. Another possible error on the original database unless they both have windpumps of course.



There is another roadblock shown, M RD 44, on the original records however there is no evidence of its remains that I could find.

16-04-2011, 04:31 PM
Taunton Stopline – Somerset - March 2011

Picking up from where I left off with the Forton Anti Tank Island, I ventured further south along the old Chard branch line track bed to explore the stretch between the dismantled Forton rail bridge and Lower Coombes near Tatworth. The railwayis long gone but our anti invasion defences linger on gracefully and lend themselves to all manner of wildlife and nature as homes or playgrounds.

Iexplored this area of the stopline as a child without knowing quite what these strange concrete structures were, only that they provided hours of summer fun.As an adult my appreciation of their purpose gives me a feeling of pride in my grandfathers generation. On a different level, the joy of youth revisited.

It struck me, as it always does on this sort of venture, that when hunting down stopline defences you get to appreciate countryside you just wouldn’t see under normal circumstances. One of the joys of this somewhat obsessive pastime I guess.

As usual the headings contain the original 1940 serial numbers for each PB along with its type. DOB numbers are also given for reference where available. A GE map shot of the area is shown below.


And on with the pics. Along the trackbed itself there are a large number of AT cubes as shown on the map shot. These are interspersed with AT ditches to just beyond Blackland lane weir.





AT cubes at Blackland Lane


AT cubes and Roadblock at the Farm entrance





AT Wall


Pillbox M 26, Type 24




A Railblock and more AT cubes




Pillbox M44, Type 24 – S0002982

I love the way this one dominates you as you stand in the cutting looking up





Pillbox M 27, Type 24


That’s all for this time folks. Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for looking in.

beam assisted
16-04-2011, 04:57 PM
Looking good mate :)

17-04-2011, 05:29 PM
Looking good mate :)

This is awesome, id love to see some of this stuff, class stop line with loads left

There's a fair bit of grunt involved in getting to some of the more out of the way locations but well worth it. Seen some rare remains lately. Thanks for the feedback.

18-04-2011, 11:19 AM
This is very good Munchh, it's great to see this type of structure described in context as part of a planned system of defences. Most of the time a pillbox is viewed as an isolated structure. I find it interesting (but not surprising) that this was designed as an anti-tank island yet all the hard defences are anti-infantry LMG posts. Prepared positions for AT guns and wheeled artillery have presumably gone the way of the other soft defences.

The guy that has taken over the maintenance of the eDOB is active on AIx and is happy to receive updates and corrections to the database. I was pleasantly surpised to find that when I moved from DOB to the latest eDOB that many of my own notes and corrections (which I hadn't got around to sharing) became redundant. I just wish that the database could be broken down by county to improve the load times and convenience.

18-04-2011, 12:10 PM
That is brilliant mate, very well researched and explored, you go into good detail on it and your report certainly made for good reading, cheers for posting :thumb

18-04-2011, 02:28 PM
Its always great to have someone on here who researches and documents this kind of stuff. Its a very interesting if forgotten subject.

19-04-2011, 07:10 PM
What an excellent thread, very good. Kept me reading and some cracking shots of lovely military bygones.

19-04-2011, 11:06 PM
Thanks for the comments all.:smile